Sawing and Splitting
Day after day, my young husband and I took our beautiful bright yellow chainsaws to his grandmother’s woodlot and cut down trees. We needed wood for the woodstove to heat our trailer, way out in the boonies in Cato.
He cut the trees and I, with my own chainsaw, lopped off the branches and cut the upper part of the tree into stove-lengths. I was so smitten by my chainsaw that I used to go around singing the company's advertising jingle. His chainsaw was larger and longer than mine, so he cut the thicker part of the trees. We loaded the wood into my truck, took it home, and, while my two babies were napping and my husband was at work, I split wood.
Carl, our neighbor across the road, came over to watch and criticize, and then returned with his wife, Helene. He wanted, her, a pretty, chubby woman with a baby of her own, to split wood like I did. Hélène was a great cook, mother and homemaker. Her house was neat and immaculate. She always wore dresses and fixed her hair with pins and bows.
I whacked away at the wood wearing jeans and with my hair in braids, swinging a small axe or a splitting maul, pounding it in, twisting just so, so that the logs chunks fell into neat triangular pieces.
Helene went home and refused to split wood. I never told Carl that, having been a tomboy all my life, I preferred to splitting wood to cleaning house. My house was messier by far than theirs. I drank Helene’s coffee and ate her little shortcakes and praised her lavishly while our babies played together—and never invited her to visit me. Instead, I took her cowboy cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies , eggs from our hens, and squash from the garden. We each clung stubbornly to being exactly who we were.
Mary Stebbins Taitt